- by Mount Saint Mary College
Two students stand in greenery holding baskets of fresh vegetables.

For dozens of Mount Saint Mary College scholars, happiness is a stunning view of the Hudson River, a warm breeze, and the opportunity to conduct their own diverse research projects through the college’s annual Summer Undergraduate Research Experience (SURE).

Nancy Robles of Newburgh, N.Y., and Lynn Maelia, Chemistry professor, tested the water quality of the Quassaick Creek, a nearly 20-mile long tributary of the Hudson River.

Over the course of two summer sessions, Mount professors from across disciplines acted as mentors to the students as they explored a plethora of subjects. This year’s SURE effort was coordinated by James Moran, associate Biology professor at the Mount.

As it has been in previous years, science was a popular field to explore. Mackenzie Zupko of Montgomery, N.Y. and her faculty mentor, Moran, worked on the project “Investigating Health of Mice Exposed to Artificial Hemoglobin, OxyVita.” OxyVita is a blood substitute that, when perfected, can be manufactured as a liquid and is the first working blood substitute in powder form in the world as well. Many Mount SURE projects have focused on testing OxyVita for nearly 10 years. Zupko found that weekly OxyVita injections increases the antibody response in the test mice with each exposure, but the mice don’t seem to have been significantly impacted by the reaction. 

Students from many other disciplines were busy in this year’s SURE as well, from Education to Arts and Letters. For example, Mikaela Burch of Beacon, N.Y. and Louise Goodman of Brewster, N.Y. got back to nature at the Newburgh Urban Farm and Food Initiative (NUFFI). Under the mentorship of Rob Wakeman, assistant professor of English, Burch and Goodman enjoyed some hands-on research into medieval recipes. NUFFI is a multi-pronged initiative with three central focuses: providing fresh, local produce to the Newburgh community; educating and employing Newburgh residents; and supporting the development of community gardens.Student working in science lab on a research project.

Other SURE projects included “EscarGLOW: Effects of Extracted Cepaea Hortensis Mucus on Malassezia Yeast Growth” by Ashley Harley of Newburgh, N.Y. with mentors Moran and Evan Merkhofer, associate professor of Biology; “Decodable Texts for Engaging Learners” by Katelyn McCormick of Bellmore, N.Y. with mentors Janine Bixler, professor of Education, and Rebecca R. Norman, associate professor of Education and Graduate Program Coordinator at the college; and “The Effects of Thyroxine on Arginase Gene Activity and Urea Excretion in Tree Frogs” by Sharifa Kelly of Monore, N.Y. with mentor Carl Hoegler, professor of Biology. 


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